Libraries offer a plethora of creative and interesting events, but a lot of times people find out about them a few days after they took place. Several library studies and research such as the one made by Pew Research Center and most recently by the Carnegie UK Trust indicate that a lot of citizens are not aware of the library’s services and programs. There might be several reasons for this, but the most important is the lack of presence into the local community.
Creating a simple marketing plan and focusing on a few online tools is the best way to improve your library’s presence in the community and make people aware of its existence. There is a lot of skepticism about this but as the Taylor and Francis Group explains in their whitepaper, a library’s social media initiatives will only be as successful as the research they do into social media usage within their library user group. For example, does the geographical location, age and ethnic profile of library users match those who use social media on a regular basis?
Here’s a preview of the most important social media tools a library can use to create a presence in the community.
Just by using Facebook as the sole online communication channel, you can reach a broad number of citizens with topics and content tailored for each of them. That is because Facebook is the most used social network and people are connected to it all day long through their phones or computers. This way, patrons can stay connected to the library’s newsfeed and events all day and you spend no money on promotional materials. Win-win, right? Here you can find an explanatory webinar with 15 ideas on improving your library’s Facebook page.
By capturing and sharing on Instagram the day to day activities and events that take place at the library, you provide to patrons some behind-the-scene insights into the library world and raise their interest. Also, you can use Instagram or Twitter to emphasize the human side of the library, which people will take as a breath of fresh air through all the congested online ads.
3. Streaming videos
If you have a mobile device you can easily live stream events at your library. Boston Public Library (BPL) surveyed its patrons in early 2014 and found that access to streaming videos was one of the top-requested services. Furthermore, streaming videos are a real trend these days since Facebook added this functionality. Nonetheless, videos can be streamed through the website or any other platform where you consider the patrons are most active. It is a real benefit to bring the library to the online community and make them aware of the events taking place at the library at that particular moment.
Video is growing to dominate users’ online activity: 78% of people watch videos online every week, and 55% watch videos online every day. Indeed, a video strategy would require a lot of work but there are a lot of events taking place at the library, so why not put them on camera and sharing them with the audience for a later watch? Take the example of San Francisco Library Youtube Channel, which shares everything starting from stories to on-stage readings and also historical short movies from the library.
Podcasts are a less commonly used tool to raise awareness of all the libraries’ services, but it is still a successful one. Just by distributing free audio with educational and unique content you can win many patrons. On a single medium, you can gather diverse and interesting topics and get broad recognition. Take the example of The New York Public Library Podcast iTunes or Soundcloud Page which gathers writers, artists, and thinkers for smart talks and provocative conversations from the nation’s cultural capital.
In the same way, you create book clubs you can easily create a podcast listening club and this way reach even the people that are always on the run and have no time for reading.
Since you have all these events organized at the library and people are introducing and presenting various topics interesting for the library’s patrons, why not transform these learnings in a blog post and make them available to a broader audience? This way, you can raise the readers’ interest in future events and offer educational content that people are really interested.
Also, each blog post is a source of content that can be easily spread on Facebook or Twitter and this way you let the audience become the library’s advocates and promote it, encouraging new followers.
People are always busy easily forget about events if they are not reminded. Therefore, you can give people the option to choose to receive e-mail alerts for the activities they are interested and even for the small events. The option to add them in their calendar is a real benefit. For example, London Public Library sends e-mails on various topics which inform the patrons about the latest library news, upcoming programs in the library and also the newest book titles.
8. Messaging app
Yes, it might be a controversial way of communicating with the patrons since all the messages are private but with a messaging app, you can make a more personal connection with patrons and maybe even answer more personal questions. Many libraries started using SMS (or similar) for a variety of purposes, including notification for items available for pickup, due date reminders, information on availability of library materials, provision of call numbers and locations, and others.
These are just a few of the tools you can use to strengthen your online presence and attract more users. To learn more about the steps to follow when marketing your library, read the Taylor and Francis whitepaper on social media use. And don’t forget the most important aspects are to understand your patrons as well as their needs and to create a marketing plan and stick to it.
Stay tuned for our blog post next week where we will share more insights from the library’s world. Find us on social media via Facebook or Twitter and read the latest developments in libraries from around the world.
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